Naya Rivera was pronounced dead at 33 on Monday after going missing last week during a day of boating on Southern California's Lake Piru with her four-year-old son Josey. Now, the outpouring of grief has begun in earnest: not only from her friends and family, but also from her legions of fans.
Many of the tributes to Rivera's life and work have focused on her role on Glee as Santana Lopez, initially introduced as an acid-tongued cheerleader who evolved into TV's first out Afro-Latina lesbian character (and took on her own family during the process of her coming-out journey).
When considering Rivera's Glee legacy, it's important to note that she encouraged the show's writers to emphasize the relationship between her character and Heather Morris's Brittany Pierce. In a 2011 interview with Vanity Fair, the actress said of the onscreen pair, "...We sort of took it lightly at first. But then we thought it was something people really wanted us to do, that it was something we should tackle. And so, one day, [head writer] Brad Falchuk came up to me and said, “We’ve decided that we’re going to explore this storyline,” and I was totally for it, and knew people would appreciate it."
In addition to viewers, Rivera's Glee castmates—many of whom gathered at Lake Piru to mourn her on Monday—are also taking to social media to remember the role she played in their lives. "How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post? How can you summarize a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t," wrote Chris Colfer on Instagram.